Boxing picked itself off the canvas and scored a knockout as Floyd Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya, and the fight crushed previous records for a pay-per-view event.
The match drew 2.15 million buys, eclipsing the 1.99 million mark set back in 1997 when Mike Tyson took on Evander Holyfield in a heavyweight bout. With a price-tag of $54.95, Mayweather-De La Hoya generated revenue of $120 million.
Part of the revenue will be shared by cable systems, which produced 1.225 million buys, and satellite providers, which booked 925,000 buys.
Boxing had been seen as a dying sport by many and this fight was viewed as the final shot at the big-time for the industry, overshadowed lately by wrestling and mixed martial arts fighting.
“We believe that there’s a tremendous opportunity with this type of viewership number to reinvigorate the sport,” said Mark Taffet, senior. VP of sports operation and pay-per-view at HBO.
Mr. Taffet said he hoped the big bucks this fight drew will motivate boxers and promoters to have the best fight possible to generate an astronomical payday and boost the sport’s profile.
“There’s nothing like a big fight,” he said. “It’s one of the most exciting and unique sporting events and time and time again, when you present a big fight to the public, they continue to respond in remarkable ways.”
HBO is taking steps to open a fresh pipeline by trying to convince fighters and promoters that by putting exciting big-name fights on pay-per-view, they can prime the pump for big PPV paydays.
“We’re committed to having the best and most competitive live fights on HBO,” he said. “Over a period of time it creates the mega-fights.”
Mr. Taffet said that HBO never forecast a record pay-per-view take for Mayweather-De Lay Hoya. But he noted several factors contributed to the surprising result. There was pent-up demand because there hadn’t been a mega-fight in five years and this fight had the rare combination of the biggest star in the sport going up against the best fighter in the sport.
“We also had the most comprehensive publicity, marketing and promotion plan in the history of PPV,” he said, including the HBO show “24/7,” which reached casual sports fans and non-boxing fans, especially younger ones who had not frequented boxing over the last few years.
Also, cable and satellite companies have distributed more digital boxes capable of receiving pay-per-view events. The pay-per-view universe is now about 61 million homes, up 35 percent from when the previous record was set.
With the numbers the fight racked up, there is likely to be more activity in the PPV world.
“Anyone that supplies programming to the pay-per-view industry and looks at these numbers will say that’s something I want to achieve also,” Mr. Taffet said.